More Brits stranded abroad because of coronavirus will be able to get back to the UK following an arrangement struck between the government and the airlines industry.
With many countries closing borders and imposing travel restrictions, many UK travellers are struggling to get home.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have announced that chartered flights from priority countries are expected to fly in over the weekend.
The government has pledged up to £75 million to pay airlines for the additional charter flights to ensure tickets are affordable.
Once special flights have been arranged, they’ll be promoted through the government’s travel advice and by the British embassy or high commission in the relevant country.
British travellers who want a seat on the flight will book and pay directly through a dedicated travel management company.
Virgin, Easyjet, Jet2 and Titan Airways have signed a memorandum of understanding negotiated by the Foreign Secretary and Transport Secretary. British Airways have also made clear that they will work with us in the national interest to get people home, and other airlines are expected to join.
Government focused on getting Brits home through a twin-track approach:
- airlines recognising their responsibility for transporting their passengers with pre-booked tickets home, through offering them alternatives where routes are cancelled, allowing them to change tickets, where permissible – including between carriers – and offering them the latest information and advice as the situation changes
- where commercial routes do not exist, the government will provide up to £75 million financial support to enable special charter flights – operated by the airlines above and others – to fly to priority countries to bring back UK residents
Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, said: “This is a worrying time for many British citizens travelling abroad.
“We’ve already worked with airlines and governments to enable hundreds of thousands to return home on commercial flights, and we will keep as many of those options open as possible.
“Where commercial flights are not possible, we will build on the earlier charter flights we organised back from China, Japan, Cuba, Ghana and Peru.
“The arrangements agreed today will provide a clearer basis to organise special charter flights where Britons find themselves stranded. Our priority will always be the most vulnerable.”
British tourists stranded abroad who want to return to the UK should first check if there are commercial routes available by visiting the airline websites, FCO travel advice pages for the country they are in and local British embassy social media.
Special charter flights for countries with no commercial routes will be prioritised according to the number of stranded British travellers and their vulnerability, including an assessment of the local health provision.
If there are no commercial options, they should visit the travel advice pages and sign up to alerts for their location and follow embassy social media and email updates.
Where people are in real need, consular teams will work with them to consider their options. As a last resort, the Foreign Office will offer an emergency loan.